From Project to Product

What’s your productivity measure for what flows in your software delivery process? And is it the right measure?

Organisations need to shift from dated managerial frameworks to develop an operating system that connects technology and architecture to the business in a simple way that everyone can understand. Traditional project-oriented approaches organise teams in silos of specialisation and rely on metrics which are meaningless to the delivery of customer value. We help you change to a product-based approach organised around Value Streams where the flow of business value is measurable, visible to all, meaningful in terms of outcomes and prioritised by customer need.

A ‘Value Stream’ is the end-to-end set of activities performed to deliver value to a customer through a product or software. It includes every stakeholder, process, activity and tool related to the delivery. Most organisations think the stream revolves around just the product and the ‘product team’, but this potentially ignores other activities and people that the product team rely/relies on and which/who should not be excluded in understanding the overall end-to-end flow of work.

Organising by Value Stream means reorganising all stakeholders and activities into virtual structures – a starting point for truly connecting everyone to the flow of work and having a shared understanding of productivity. We achieve this through ‘Value Stream Mapping’ – observing different work types, how work flows through a system, looking at process and time, developing visual notation, identifying blockages and waste and seeking the right metrics for production flow management. But which metrics?

The desired metrics must be based on the end-to-end flow of artefacts through the Value Stream (or network of Value Streams) and must identify any bottlenecks in the flow of artefacts anywhere along the Stream. Dr Mik Kersten, in his seminal book Project to Product, identified four key metrics:

Flow Velocity

Measures the throughput of artefacts. Measuring this alone actually rarely makes sense, but combined with the other metrics becomes very powerful.

Flow Efficiency

Measures how many bits of work are being completed over a period of time – when the work is being done and not sitting in a queue. This metric reveals much about ‘end-to-end’ delivery of value and makes it easy to see things that can be improved.

Flow Time

Measures the time from which a piece of work started to its completion. This metric provides data to understand lead times and cycle times.

Flow Load

Measures the amount of work in progress, how much more can be accommodated and the impacts on the Value Stream and Value Stream Network.

Copyright ©2020 Tasktop Technologies Incorporated. Published with permission

In every Value Stream, there are different types of activity or work, each having a unique contribution to the delivery of value. Dr Mik Kersten categorises four work types in a Value Stream which he describes as ‘Flow Distribution’:

Features Defects Risks Debts

Once the work types are understood, the flow in each can be measured and compared to gain insights into type-specific bottlenecks. This makes it easier to prioritise actionable improvements.

Tasktop is a revolutionary metrics platform being adopted by many of the world’s leading enterprises. We’re a Tasktop Partner because we’re convinced of its value. While we’ve been helping clients organise by Value Streams for years, the Platform is the first set of tools that properly measures software development productivity in terms of business outcomes. We think it’s a game-changing development.

The Tasktop Value Stream Management Platform provides:

  • End-to-end flow metrics to make better decisions
  • Tool integration to optimise workflows across silos
  • Tool performance monitoring to ensure reliable flow of data
  • Flow modelling to help align activity with business requirements

The Platform ‘plugs into your organisation’ and sits on top of existing tools you use to get work done (whether from Atlassian, Micro Focus, Microsoft, GitHub etc.). It overlays the end-to-end Value Stream to provide the metrics you need to practise Value Stream Management on a daily basis.

While the concepts we’ve introduced here seem familiar – for example, in the Lean principles of Reinertsen or to anyone familiar with Kanban – it simplifies the language and makes value visible in a way that everyone can understand.

It’s easier to have trade-off conversations about work priorities and see the impact of pushing more work into the Value Stream. It’s easier to identify which work should stop. It allows you to see if SAFe® is delivering the value you expected. It’s also a basis for modelling portfolio-change scenarios, allowing a business to better understand how it can adapt to new challenges. Crucially of course, the focus shifts away from measuring ‘activity’ to measuring flow of value, which matters much more for business outcomes.

If that’s something you value, we’d love to help you transition from project to product. Discover more in our playbook (available in April 2021) or, in the meantime, contact us for a more thorough introduction.

Discover more

Our From Project to Product playbook

This playbook will be available in APRIL 2021.

Our playbooks are freely downloadable – no contact details required. However, if you want us to tell you when this particular playbook is available, please sign up.

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